Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic team scored a handful of top-10 finishes and wins at the Crested Butte Solstice Showdown over the weekend, but few drew the same attention as Evan Barbier’s gold in the U16 sprint.
Barbier initially was ruled the U16 sprint second-place finisher behind Crested Butte’s Kai Sherman, but after a nearly hour review by officials, Barbier was awarded a memorable photo-finish first.
“Last time I’ve seen that was in the World Cup,” SSWSC cross-country ski coach Brian Tate said. “These sprints can come down to finishes like that.”
Tate said the Solstice Showdown — which was broken into two days, with Saturday’s sprint race and Sunday’s freestyle — attracts some of America’s elite Nordic skiers. It’s open to collegiate athletes, including University of Colorado, Denver University, Dartmouth and University of Utah athletes.
SSWSC’s Evan Weinman’s performance in the U20-U18-senior combined class was the team’s premier finish, his coach said. Weinman, a U20 skier, outlasted four Vail Club racers to take first in the men’s sprint division.
“He was stoked — very excited,” Tate said about Weinman.
Lars Hannah took eighth place in the U20-U18-senior division, Max Scrimgeour was 12th and Colin Delaney rounded out SSWSC athletes at 14th.
Representing the SSWSC and the University of Colorado, Lucy Newman grabbed second place in the female U20-U18-senior sprint division. Cara Piske and Abbey Habermehl were fourth and fifth, respectively. Also in the top 10 were Steamboat’s Gretchen Burkholder in seventh and SSWSC alum and Dartmouth skier Emily Hannah in eighth.
“Abbey Habermehl has been battling a back injury since last year, so it’s been a real struggle for her,” Tate said. “She had a real confidence-boosting performance over the weekend without pain. She was super psyched.”
Behind Barbier’s photo finish in the U16 male sprint was SSWSC’s Noel Keeffe in third, Tyler Terranova in ninth, Wyatt Gebhardt in 11th and Simon Zink in 13th.
In the U16 female sprint, Jordi Floyd and Kathleen O’Connell were the lone SSWSC representatives, grabbing second and third, respectively, for their team. Avery Harrington was the top finisher in the U14 female sprint with an impressive performance, Tate said.
In Sunday’s Nordic freestyle competition, Weinman was sixth in U20's men, and Hannah followed up Saturday’s sprint with a second-place finish in U18 men’s freestyle.
Steamboaters dominated the top half of the U16 men's freestyle, grabbing five of the top seven finishes, including Keeffe’s second place and Gebhardt’s third. Sven Tate won U14 men’s freestyle, the only SSWSC skier in the 19-person field.
Steamboat again dominated the U20 women's freestyle with Emily Hannah (first) and Piske (second) grabbing the top two spots and Madison Keeffe not far behind in fourth.
U18 women’s freestyle also had a pair of Steamboat skiers at the top, with Habermehl and Burkholder holding back the rest of the field.
Tate said Crested Butte totally reconfigured its Nordic trail system, and his athletes rose to the challenge in the two-day event.
“I personally was really proud of the effort and the ensuing results that our athletes were able to garner,” Tate said. “Even the ones who didn’t win, we had a lot of top-10s. We’re pretty confident going into the rest of the season.”
Next up for the Nordic team after a winter holiday break will be the U.S. Nationals in Midway, Utah, at Soldier Hollow, a 2002 Winter Olympics venue. The competition is Jan. 4 to 10 with four events.
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll